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W Lacrosse v. Delaware Credit: Michele Ozer , Michele Ozer

The three-peat: the oft-cited and highly coveted signifier of a bona fide dynasty, a feat accomplished by so few in the arena of American athletics. Michael Jordan did it. So did the Lakers and Yankees of the turn of the century. But not many others.

Most programs, collegiate or professional, would give just about anything to achieve a three-peat, but to Penn women’s lacrosse, it’s simply no big deal.

This year, the Quakers are going for an unheard-of three-times-three-peat.

Winners of the past eight Ivy League regular season championships, the Red and Blue will begin their quest for their ninth-straight title this Saturday, opening their season on the road against Delaware.

The prospect of defending their eight straight titles, on the surface, seems like it would be pretty intimidating. After all, championships aren’t just valued by the program — they’re expected. But coach Karin Corbett has been around the block, and she knows how to manage her athletes’ goals.

“It’s not about defending anything,” Corbett said. “It’s about going out and taking it, and that’s what we’ve been saying since day one.”

And this year, the team’s definition of “taking it” may expand well past the confines of the Ancient Eight.

“We’re pursuing bigger things this year,” senior Tory Bensen said. “We have our eyes on a national title, not just another Ivy League championship.”

These goals may seem lofty, but on paper, the Red and Blue can make some pretty legitimate arguments to back up their claims.

The Quakers have been ranked No. 14 in the nation in the preseason coaches’ poll, tops in the Ivy League, just ahead of No. 15 Princeton and certainly amongst the nation’s elite teams.

But Penn’s preseason resume extends well past rankings, as the program returns with almost all of its most significant contributors from last year.

Nowhere is this more noticeable than on the backline, featuring reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year and preseason All-American selection Meg Markham along with two fellow senior running mates — defense Lydia Miller and goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson.

“We were pretty strong last year, and yes, we have a lot of experience this year,” Miller said. “But we cannot be complacent, and we need to push forward.”

The Quakers have been seen as a defensively-minded squad throughout their run, but they are no slouches on offense either. And this year, with up-and-comers like junior attack Iris Williamson joining the ranks of established threats like Bensen and junior midfield Nina Corcoran, the Red and Blue may be more offensively potent than ever.

“We’re really trying to start from the bottom with our attack and become a goal-scoring powerhouse nationally,” Bensen said. “It’s about having depth across our attack and midfield so that we can all create.”

So the Quakers’ ambitious long-term aspirations may very well be realistic, but where do they even start?

Well, they will face an immediate challenge from the Blue Hens (2-0), who demolished a formidable Georgetown team over the weekend.

“They have a couple weeks on us and a couple games on us, so we’ve gotta come ready to play,” Corbett said.

The number on the mind of every Penn fan this season is nine, but there is only one way for the Quakers to get there — one game at a time.

And Saturday is the first.

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